NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — PCOS Awareness Month is upon us. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

According to the CDC, it currently affects one in 10 women around the world.

KX News’ Samantha Sayler spoke with a doctor about PCOS to learn more.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common hormonal condition that affects women of reproductive age. It usually starts during adolescence, but symptoms may fluctuate over time.

PCOS can cause hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, excess androgen levels, and cysts in the ovaries. Irregular periods, usually with a lack of ovulation, can make it difficult to become pregnant.

“PCOS is a disorder in women that impacts insulin levels, cortisol levels, and hormones. And specifically where the male hormone factor in women is more elevated than their female hormones are and that causes an imbalance and multiple different symptoms,” said Dr. Tera Brandner, DNP-FNPC.

Symptoms of PCOS can include heavy, long, intermittent, unpredictable, or absent periods, infertility, acne or oily skin, excessive hair on the face or body, male-pattern baldness or hair thinning, and weight gain, especially around the belly.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is diagnosed by the presence of at least two out of the following:

  • Signs or symptoms of high androgens like unwanted facial or bodily hair
  • Loss of hair from the head
  • Acne, or an elevated blood level of testosterone

After other causes for this have been excluded, finding polycystic ovaries on an ultrasound.

Though many women go undiagnosed, there are some common misconceptions surrounding the disease.

“The first one, if you just lose weight that will magically fix everything, and that’s simply not true. There’s many different things you have to do and many times women are doing all of the things correctly to try to lose weight and it’s not working. And we have to adjust things. Another misconception is that you can’t get pregnant if you have PCOS or if you’ve been pregnant and had zero problems trying to get pregnant, you don’t have PCOS. It really goes both ways, it’s really not a factor to the disease,” Dr. Brandner said.

Women who suspect they may have PCOS are encouraged to reach out to their healthcare provider for further testing and remember: If you have PCOS, you are not alone.